China is considering reorganizing its seven military regions into five in a bid to respond more swiftly to a crisis, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported yesterday.
The news comes amid rising tensions over Beijing’s territorial claims in the region.
Each of the new military regions will create a joint operations command that controls the army, navy and air force as well as a strategic missile unit, the major daily said citing senior Chinese military officials and other sources.
The revamp would mark a shift from the current defense-oriented military that relies mainly on the army to one that ensures more mobile and integrated management of the army, navy, air force and strategic missile units, Yomiuri said.
“It is a proactive measure with eyes on counteracting the Japan-US alliance,” the daily quoted one of the Chinese officials as saying.
Under the proposed military structure, China aims to strengthen its attack capability to secure air and naval superiority in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, the daily said.
The newspaper also reported that Japan plans to deploy its first “Global Hawk” unmanned surveillance planes at an airbase in Misawa, on the northern tip of Japan’s main Honshu Island, adjacent to a US airbase where the same type of aircraft will be based later this year.
Japan’s defense ministry plans to deploy three Global Hawk drones between April next year and March 2016, Yomiuri said.
Equipped with sensors and radar systems, the Global Hawk drone is capable of flying more than 30 hours nonstop and detecting the movements of vessels, aircraft and missiles within a radius of 500km from an altitude of 18,000m.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense and the US air force will jointly maintain the drones to ensure they operate effectively, the report said.
In addition, information collected by the Global Hawks will be shared and jointly analyzed, Yomiuri said.
China, which has been ramping up military spending over its past decade of strong economic growth, has also tussled with the Philippines and Vietnam over maritime territories.